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American Indian Speaks, The


Published 1973


This important film presents the American Indian speaking for himself ---discussing what he wants and how he feels. It features historically important Native Americans such as Chief Dan George and Lame Deer, and focuses on three American Indian tribes and how they are surviving. Reverend Cliff Hill describes how the Muskogee Creek are fighting to maintain their language, and the Ceremonial Stomp Dance is shown. Medicine Man Lame Deer (John Fire) addresses aspects of the Rosebud Sioux existence, the All-Indian Rodeo is shown, and the Wounded Knee massacre is discussed. Several members of Oregon's Nisqually tribe discuss the struggle to retain fishing rights, underscored by newsreel footage of tribe members fighting with federal authorities and being arrested. The film ends with shots of Native American steel workers building the Sears Tower, filmed by Tom Smith 86 stories high, accompanied by Caw Indian Jim Pepper's jazzy version of his composition "Witchi-Tai-To. The film was made in collaboration with Stan Steiner, author of "The New Indians."

About the film, producer Tom Smith writes: "The academy award nominated actor, Chief Dan George, provided the voice for the Indian readings. Popular editor, critic and TV personality Clifton Fadiman was the film’s narrator. He was associated with EBF as a cultural consultant and for some reason became involved with the film. It seems so out of character for him. Nonetheless he graciously assisted in my getting this film past EBF management who were bewildered by the movie. They expected a basket weaving and pottery making film shown where the Indians live etc… They did not want a film raising all these embarrassing questions about the white man’s treatment of the Native American... the feeling at management screening was they didn’t like what the film was saying but would be criticized if they censored it.

"To make the film, three of us traveled around the country. One of my key assistants was a young man named Bob Vineyard. Bob was a political radical and became more radical as he aged. Around 1983, (more than a decade after we made this film) he was so concerned about Right Wing dictatorships in Central America (can’t recall which) that he traveled there and simply disappeared. Fadiman died in 1999 and Chief Dan George in 1981. Our collaborator was author Stan Steiner who live only to the age of 62, (1987). He died while working at his typewriter. What a way to go."


Run time 21:00
Producer Thomas G. Smith
Production Company Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.
Sponsor Thomas G. Smith
Audio/Visual sound, color


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